BEACON FALLS — After a few years of searching and two failed attempts at going out to bid, the Board of Selectmen last week approved the purchase of a demo model firetruck for Beacon Hose Company No. 1.
The selectmen unanimously supported buying a 2017 Pierce Manufacturing Inc. firetruck for $850,000 from Firematic Supply Company Inc. out of Rocky Hill.
Under the contract, the town will pay $840,000 upfront and the final $10,000 after upgrades are made and the truck is delivered. The upgrades include new tires, lowering the gearing of the truck to make it better able to handle the town’s topography, and painting and lettering to match the other trucks in Beacon Hose’s fleet.
“Other than that, the vehicle is essentially manufactured and ready for use in its current form,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.
The company offered to deliver the truck before the upgrades, and the town would then return it to have the upgrades made.
“We don’t really want it here until it is finished,” Fire Chief Brian DeGeorge said. “The way we have it planned out is for them to do the repairs and, during that time period, we will go up and take measurements for mounting equipment. Then we will physically take ownership when it is complete.”
The purchase marks the end of the fire department’s nearly five-year quest for a ladder truck to replace a fire engine that has been in service for about three decades.
The department first announced it was looking or a new firetruck in 2013. In 2016, voters approved bonding up to $850,000 for a new firetruck.
In October and again in January, the selectmen rejected three bids for a new firetruck because the bids were either too high or didn’t meet the specifications.
“This has been a long road,” Bielik said.
The truck is expected to be delivered by the end of the month. Officials plan to sell the old truck the new one will be replacing.
Bielik said the demo model exceeds the requirements that the town set out. He added the truck has a 105-foot ladder. The town originally was considering trucks with a 75-foot ladder.
DeGeorge said the additional length will benefit the town.
“The hardest part about Beacon Falls is not the height, it is the distance. Most of the stuff is big colonials off the road with a lot of yard, and you need a lot of reach to get to,” DeGeorge said.
The truck also has a 500-gallon pumper capacity, several ground ladders and compartment space for tools.
The 2017 model retails new for more than $1 million, according to officials.
“We have a million-dollar truck we are going to get for $850,000. I mean it is a no-brainer,” Selectman Peter Betkoski said.
Beacon Hose member Jim Trzaski, who served as chief prior to DeGeorge, credited DeGeorge with getting the deal done.
“He did direct negotiating and got all that equipment basically with his own blood, sweat and tears,” Trzaski said.